CLIMATE AND GEOSPATIAL RESEARCH PROGRAM

 

The history of agro meteorology service in the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) is as old as the institute itself that has been started in 1960s. Melkassa Research Center is the cradle of the agro-meteorological services, while at the same time being vested in the responsibility to coordinate the effort. Through the process, roughly three phases have been elapsed. The first ‘slow phase’ spanning almost three decades includes the continued establishment of weather observatory stations across the research centers. Today, there exist about 63 agro-meteorological observatory stations of varying standards under the auspices of NARS and a culture of archiving the unexcelled climate data has been built.

 

The second phase was landmarked with the assignment of two junior researchers during years 1992-1994 and this phase must have formed the basis for the significant point of departure towards re-imagining Ethiopian agriculture research through climate lens. This ‘critical thinking’ phase has shed valuable insights on how best to align climate analyses, the result of which can be integrated into crop and livestock technology generation processes and extension to the end users.

 

Early 2000’s has formed the third phase of institutional capacity building, the time when agro-meteorology was staged to a program level with a merger of three interrelated disciplines, i.e., Biometrics, GIS and Agro-meteorology (BGA). By that time, the already piled massive historical climate data on record has been standardized and centralized data management has been strengthened which also ensured data security and integrity. The technical staff profile was then grown from one to nine and the program had developed its own research strategy for the first time.

 

Year 2009 formed the fourth phase, the time when the program reengineering was accomplished under the dictum ‘this time for climate’. Since then, the staff literacy and numeracy has increased substantially two PhD, 11 MSc, 7 BSc holders and observers.

 

Currently, the program is organized under the name ‘Climate and Geospatial Research which handles several technically, computationally and practically demanding research projects. A range of thematic areas; including local climate characterization, downscaling global and regional climate modeling outputs, vulnerability analyses, impact mapping and adaptation/mitigation mainstreaming into research programs for scaling up of the resulting good practices into the national extension system are covered in the program.

 

OBJECTIVES

§  To contribute to the enhancement of resilience of Ethiopian agriculture (crops, livestock and land and water) to climatic variability and climate change through assessing risks/vulnerability and implementing priority adaptation responses

§  To conduct greenhouses gases emission reduction or removal research in the face of ensuring environmental sustainability, despite the changing climate

§  To mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies into crops, livestock and Land-water resources research

§  To develop promising and evolving smart methodologies to mainstream agro-meteorological advisory services extension in the national extension system

 

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

§  Management of dry-spell risks through optimization of precipitation use efficiency (PUE) for the major rainfed crops production under smallholder farming in semi-arid climate, Ethiopia

§  Identification of greenhouse gases emission reduction from agricultural soils

§  Agro-meteorological observation network for enhanced data quality and quantity

 

MAJOR OUTPUTS

 

Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation Issues into Various Sectors

 

Baseline analyses of the 126 g research projects show that only 36.5% include CCA to the scale of slightly related to most related. The low level of understanding about climate system is the main reason for a high climate insensitive research projects. This overall low performance gives an insight on how the research system has to align itself by way of moving away from business as usual (BAU) approach towards the explicitly valued directions;

 

Vulnerability Analyses

 

Vulnerability of agriculture while linking with the socioeconomic and environmental characteristics was done in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia and Upper Awash Basin. The following maps display the differential vulnerability of the two specific localities.

 

 

Analyses of Impact on major food crops production

 

Mainstreaming agro-weather advisory services through Famer Training

 

The two most documented achievements with respect to demonstrating the potential benefits of agro-weather advisory service extension were:

(1) the EIAR-Rockefeller Foundation project in four regional states of Ethiopia since 2010; and

(2) the EIAR-World Bank collaborative intervention, i.e., involving the establishment of communication tools for dissemination of climate information at individual farm level (SMS and Interactive Voice Response System/IVRs)

 

Development of Agro-Weather Advisory Tool

 

EIAR developed and piloted “Agro-Weather Tool” which provides ten daily climate or weather forecast integrated with agronomic recommendation/advisory. The Tool better predicts the pattern of the rainy season, including start and end of effective rains and possible in-season dry spells, LGP, better agronomic management practices - land preparation and planting dates, time of fertilizer applications, weed control, pesticide use, choice of crops and varieties, irrigation recommendations and other critical information to the farmer via mobile phone. Dissemination platforms include Voice Interactive Systems (IVRS and SMS). In addition, for high level user there is an option to use web and smart phone app. Generally, this newly developed platform helps to reduce the vulnerability and increase capacity of smallholder farmers to adapt to climate variability and climate change in water-stressed regions in Ethiopia.

 

FUTURE RESEARCH FOCUS

§   Steady position to scale up what worked well and fix what didn’t work well.

o   What processes work best and why in different climates and contexts

o   Impacts and feed back

§   Research into new prediction and forecast methods and improvements

§   Validation: assessing the business model potential of the promising practices is required before scaling up

§   Scaling up of what works best and where (inter-institutional)

§   Furthering research for more promising practices

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Tewodros Sisay,

Coordinator, Climate and Geospatial Research Program, MARC

P.O. BOX 436, Adama, Ethiopia

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mob.: +25191 179 6237